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Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t know or can’t remember my Library card number or barcode. Can you look it up for me?

Yes, we can easily look up your Library card number. Please contact us and provide your full name, street address, and birthdate so that we can confirm your identity. We will then look up your card number for you. If you have not used your Library card for several years, we may have removed your account from the system due to inactivity. We can check that for you as well.

What should I do if I lost my Library card?

It’s important to contact us right away to report a lost Library card so we can deactivate it. You may be responsible for any items checked out on a lost card. When you contact us, please include your full name, street address, and birthdate so we can confirm your identity. There is a $1 replacement fee for a new card.

What should I do if I forgot my PIN?

You can reset your PIN online. We can also easily reset your PIN for you. Please contact us and provide your full name, street address, and birthdate so we can look up your account. Please also include the 4-digit number you’d like to use as your PIN so we can reset it. If you have not used your Library card for several years, we may have removed your account from the system due to inactivity. We can check that for you as well.

Why can’t I access online resources and digital media with my new Library card number?

During our temporary closure due to COVID-19, we can issue you a new card if you are 13 or older, live in Seattle, and have a mobile phone. If we are able to verify your eligibility, you will get instant access to e-books and e-audiobooks through OverDrive, and access to the rest of our online resources within a few days. Complete a Library card application and follow the instructions on the confirmation page to verify your account through OverDrive.

I returned a book or other item but it’s still showing up on my account. What do I do?

To ensure the safety of patrons and staff, all returned items will be quarantined – and will remain on your account – for a minimum of 3 days before being checked in. If your items are still showing as checked out on your account more than 3 days after you returned them, please contact us and provide your library card number, the title you returned, the branch where you returned the item, and the date you returned it. We will try to locate the item and will not add any charges for the missing item to your account while we look for it.

What happens if I return a Seattle Public Library item to a King County Library System (KCLS) location (or vice versa)?

KCLS delivers our items that were returned to them once per week, and vice versa. The item will remain checked out to you until it is checked in by the owning library, but the owning library will adjust the return date to reflect the date you returned it.

How do I reserve a Library meeting room or event space?

During our temporary closure due to COVID-19, we are not taking reservations for meeting rooms.

How can I get free Museum Passes?

We have passes to local museums and attractions that you can reserve. Passes are available one month in advance, and new passes are made available each evening at 9 p.m. Passes to popular museums go very quickly when new ones are released. Visit our Museum Pass page for a full list of museums and attractions, and instructions for reserving passes.

Will you look up an obituary for me?

Yes, if you have a Library card, you can use our online resources. You can find links to online tools to help you locate obituaries and other records on our genealogy page.

If you don’t have a Library card, you can apply for one online. If you don’t qualify, you can ask the Seattle Genealogical Society to look up information for a fee.

Whether or not you have a Library card, you can email us to make a request. Please provide as much information as you can:

  1. Your library card number (if you have one)
  2. Full name of deceased (including maiden name)
  3. Approximate date of death
  4. Approximate date of birth or age at death
  5. Location of death

Our genealogy librarians will use our databases and other online resources to assist you. If we cannot find the information for you, we can tell you how to order newspapers on microfilm from other library systems to look up the obituary.

How do I donate books?

The Library is not able to accept book donations at this time. Please do not leave books or other materials you wish to donate at Library branches.